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The Edith Wharton Murders (Nick Hoffman Mysteries Book 2) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Length: 240 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Complete Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Whoever said that the pen was mightier than the sword might have had The Edith Wharton Murders in mind. In this campus mystery by the talented Lev Raphael, a conference on Edith Wharton becomes a killing ground when various literary factions carry their war of words a little too far--and someone ends up dead. At the heart of both the hostilities and the mystery is Nick Hoffman, a Wharton bibliographer saddled with the thankless task of moderating the conference. Once the murder has occurred, Nick must switch his focus from panel discussions to investigation, a course of action that provides plenty of opportunities for author Raphael to skewer the academic world he left behind.

From Kirkus Reviews

As if the State University of Michigan weren't already full enough of misfits and malcontents, a conference on Edith Wharton promises to pipe more in from across the country. Reluctant conference organizer Nick Hoffman is sure that the invited guests- -rival Wharton scholars Van Deegan Jones (of the offensively insular old guard) and Verity Gallup (of the offensively irresponsible new), trendy punk novelist Chloe DeVore and her current lover Vivianne Fresnel, bestselling trashy romancer/aspiring Wharton biographer Grace-Dawn Vaughan and her professor-baiting editor Devon Davenport--will mix so well with the home-grown cargo of covetous academics, spineless administrators, and born-again trustees that they'll all be delighted when the conference is history. But even Nick is surprised when Chloe DeVore is bashed to death with one of the attractive new granite tiles being installed at the conference site, and a throng of new suspects (a lesbian colleague hoping to break up Chloe's on-again affair with Vivianne! a novelist prostrated by Chloe's dismissive review! a fortuitous ex-husband!) come leaping into the spotlight with all the spontaneity and emotional expressiveness of the Rockettes. As in Nick's debut (Let's Get Criminal, 1996), criminal investigation takes a backseat to catty gossip as the narrator outdoes the characters by trashing authors as diverse as David Baldacci and Eve K. Sedgwick. Except for the murders, the conference turns out pretty well. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5280 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: January 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0059XF2NI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,244 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Lev Raphael has wanted to be an author since he was in second grade, and he's not only achieved his dream, he's published twenty-five books in genres from memoir to mystery to Jane Austen Mashup; had his books translated into nearly a dozen languages; appeared in two documentaries; won various prizes; done hundreds of invited talks and readings on three different continents; recently sold his literary papers (92 boxes!) to the Michigan State University Libraries (MSUL); been the subject of scholarly articles, papers and book chapters; and seen his work taught at colleges and universities around the country. Which means he's become homework. Who knew?

Born and raised in New York, he got over it and has spent half his life in Michigan. He's a pioneer in writing about children of Holocaust survivors, which he's been doing since 1978, longer than almost any other American author. He frequently tours with his books (check for his current schedule) and is currently touring with My Germany, a memoir/travelogue exploring the role Germany has played in his family, his life, and his career.

After he escaped academia to write full-time, he reviewed extensively for over a decade for the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Radio, The Washington Post, Jerusalem Report, The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Forward, Boston Review, and Lambda Book Report. He now reviews for and WKAR 90.5 FM/East Lansing Public Radio, and when he's not busy, he sometimes imagines some graduate student years from now in the MSUL archives puzzling over his handwriting.

A seasoned reader of his own work, with a background in theater and teaching, he loves the performance aspect of touring, as well as meeting people he'd never meet back home. And the sightseeing. And the foreign foods. For photos from his previous German book tours, go to

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is so accomplished and outstanding, it's hard to know where to begin. Let's start by saying the New York Times Book Review was right in reviewing this book twice! Raphael is a fine literary writer (see his dark novel Winter Eyes, for example), but he's here mastered the art of academic satire and more than holds his own with David Lodge, Robert Barnard, Jane Smiley and Amanda Cross. It's a clever and compelling mystery, too, filled with extravagantly intriguing characters. There's a powerful depiction of a stable and loving relationship, and the book also offers wonderful social satire of the Edith Wharton boom of the 1990s. The prose is finely tuned, as you'd expect from this prize-winning author. Best of all, there is the witty,caring but put-upon voice of the narrator, Nick Hoffman, the embattled composition professor. In fact, there's so much here that less attentive readers may miss its wealth--so pour a glass of your favorite wine and read slowly! The Edith Wharton Murders is proof of what acclaimed mystery novelist Barbara D'Amato has said many times: we live in a great age of mystery writers.
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Format: Hardcover
Nick Hoffman & his companion, Stefan Borowski, are academics at the State University of Michigan in Michiganopolis (read Michigan State University, East Lansing). They have some cool and far too many specious colleagues, and everybody gets caught up in the dreadful politics of academia. This series is funny & educational & interesting & thoroughly addictive. It may seem odd to compare a mystery writer to novelist Laurie Colwin, but fans of hers should check out Lev Raphael. His writing is in many ways reminiscent of hers & that's about the highest compliment I can pay any writer! THE EDITH WHARTON MURDERS, like Raphael's other two mysteries, is written intelligently, humorously, with a very good ear &, in this one, an all-too-accurate view of that bizarre phenomenon, the Academic Conference.
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Format: Hardcover
What an utterly charming book! In THE EDITH WHARTON MURDERS, the second Nick Hoffman mystery, author Lev Raphael hits his stride--and it is something to behold. Witty, elegant and fun, this gay cosy (sub sub-genre?) details the murder and mayhem at an Edith Wharton conference hosted by SUM Lit professor, Nick Hoffman.
Elements that irked me in the self-conscious LET'S GET CRIMINAL, the first of this original series, are noticeably missing here. For example, main characters Nick and (particularly) Stefan are fleshed out and much more likeable (scatty, enthusiastic, emotional Nick is fast developing into a classic). Their relationship is explored, and I was relieved to see some fallout over the Perry Cross affair (no healthy person takes betrayal as meekly as Nick appeared to in LET'S GET CRIMINAL).
Raphael is refreshingly ruthless in targeting his murder victims from both old and new characters. He sets a lively pace and keeps his amusing cast dancing, while tantalyzing the reader with mouthwatering descriptions of good music, good food, good wine and clever conversation. And I think he makes a smart decision in keeping his mysteries non-gay specific. Nick and the reluctant Stefan are normal, attractive guys (who happen to be gay) caught up in the extraordinary occurrence of murder. It could happen to anyone--though probably not so entertainingly.
I can't wait to see what mischief Nick next gets himself--and the handsome and frequently disapproving Stefan--into.
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Format: Paperback
"The Edith Wharton Murders" has it all---good writing, a bright and charming amateur sleuth, and a fresh and ironic take on those well-worn groves of academe. Wait---before you groan and mutter something about "another campus mystery with cutesy cartoon characters as faculty members," give this one a try. You''ll find plenty of highly UNstereotyped profs---you probably had classes with some of them, maybe even Nick Hoffman himself. New t-shirt motto: I LUV LEV!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the most fun I've had on campus since David Lodge -- and I work at a university. I've often thought that the academy is a natural setting for murder mysteries, since the tenure system means there's no other way to get rid of people. Plus it's such a tempestuous teapot that there's never a shortage of motives. Lev Raphael manages to capture the absurdity of campus politics even as they revolve around a fully human protagonist. There's enough snarkiness and ego here to make the story utterly realistic, given the setting. But there's also real feeling, including the deep loathing of evil that characterized the best mysteries from the golden age.

This is a delightful read: poisonously funny, true to the setting, and obviously written by one who knows this world from the inside. I read it during a particularly stressful time, and it was a great escape. Thank goodness it's a series, as I was sorry when it ended.
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Format: Paperback
Raphael really knows how to navigate this territory. Nick is smart, perceptive, and just insecure and naive enough to be a believeable, albeit unusual, academic/amateur sleuth. He lives well, is a curious observer, and he even likes his students. Probably that's why he's always in such hot water with colleagues and superiors. This wise and intelligent mystery is squarely in the tradition of Nick and Nora; and it pays homage as well to the wit and elegance--and psychological dimensions--of Edith Wharton's most mature work. That's why this satirical literary mystery works in satisfying ways on several different levels.
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